Steel industry petitions for state help
Four steel associations have called on the government to help promote the use of locally made steel products in infrastructure development projects.
On Friday, the Standard Long Steel Product Trade Association, the EAF Long Product Steel Producer Association, the Association of Thai Steel Industries and the Thai Steel Wire Rod Trade Association submitted a petition to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha through Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam.
They asked the government to come up with a policy to support the use of domestically made steel products, particularly steel wire rods and reinforced steel bars, in state infrastructure projects such as the high-speed rail network linking three airports, the Thai-Chinese high-speed railway project, mass transit projects, the U-tapao airport extension and the third-phase development of Laem Chabang and Map Ta Phut seaports.
Pravit Horungruang, president of the Standard Long Steel Product Trade Association, said the policy will help boost the domestic economy and the local steel industries if the government requires infrastructure projects to use up to 90% of locally made steel wire rods and reinforced steel bars in their development.
"We are confident that locally made steel wire rods and reinforced steel products meet international quality standards and have competitive prices," Mr Pravit said.
He said the country's slowing property sector and a flood of cheap Chinese steel have taken a heavy toll on 60 steel wire rod and reinforced steel makers.
Mr Pravit said the producers have a combined production capacity of up to 13 million tonnes, but their real production is only 38% or 5 million tonnes a year.
He said the unabated trade row between the US and China and the overall global economic slowdown have prompted China, Malaysia and Vietnam to beef up their shipments to Thailand.
Imported steel compounds have been altered to avoid the Commerce Ministry's existing anti-dumping measures.
"We expect competition to become more drastic over the next 2-3 years when Chinese manufacturers who have already established factories, with total capacity of 2 million tonnes, kick off operations," Mr Pravit said.
He said the associations also asked the Commerce Ministry to implement anti-circumvention penalties on imported steel.
Circumvention is any activity designed to avoid the payment of anti-dumping or countervailing duties imposed on a particular product made in and/or exported from other countries.
The ministry has received several complaints from domestic industries that many foreign manufacturers and exporters to Thailand have been circumventing anti-dumping or countervailing duties by various means.
Domestic consumption for steel products is estimated at 19.3 million tonnes a year, 12 million tonnes of which is imported.